The Lady Horn volleyball team could be in for another “ho-hum” outing this evening in Show Low.
Such an event is anticipated because that’s exactly what happened the last time the two East region teams met — Sept. 8 in Wilson Dome. Although Payson won 20-17, 25-18, 15-25 and 25-17, the showdown didn’t generate much excitement or enthusiasm.
“We kind of sleepwalked through this match,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “In matches like this, there is a tendency to play down to the level of your opponent.”
Unfortunately, the Lady Cougars’ “level” this season is not very high. The team is 1-1 in East play, 1-4 overall, and is not projected to be a state tournament contender.
“Show Low is not a powerful, elite team this year,” Stonebrink said.
Another reason for the team’s lackluster performance might have been the absence of Rylee Halenar, a team sparkplug throughout the early season.
“We missed her hustle and energy,” Stonebrink said.
Halenar, who was leading the team in digs, is sidelined with an ankle injury and could be out one to three weeks.
The best hopes in the Lady Longhorn camp are that she returns by Sept. 29 for a tough stretch of games against Blue Ridge, Snowflake and Fountain Hills.
“Hopefully, we can make do without Rylee in the meantime,” Stonebrink said
In Payson’s win over Show Low, the Lady Horns did not hit well, but rode rock-solid serving to the victory.
“The girls dropped 12 aces on the Cougars and our serving kept Show Low from running their offense with any consistency,” Stonebrink said.
Rachel Creighton paced PHS at the line with three aces and 14 service winners.
In addition to strong serving, the Lady Horns stymied Show Low with digging expertise.
In digging up 35 Cougar hits, the Lady Horns were led by eight digs apiece from Trinity England and Reghan Flake.
Stonebrink also lauded the back row — Eveliina Solimein, Cami Barnett, Flake and England — for their stellar passing.
At the net, the Lady Horns were led by Michelle Daniels and Kaitlyn Curtis, who each had one solo block and two block assists.
The coach also praised Kelsey Waugh and Marlow Galloway for their contributions, which included two blocks.
As a team, the Lady Horns blocked seven Cougar hits.
The varsity win over the Cougars was the climax of Payson’s clean sweep that included victories by both the freshman and jayvee teams.
The frosh won 25-6 and 25-23 to improve their record to 3-0. The jayvees are 4-0 after their 25-19 and 25-9 victory.
Following tonight’s game in Show Low, Payson hosts Flagstaff at Wilson Dome Wednesday in games at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The Lady Horns then meet St. Johns on Sept. 17, and compete in a tournament at Coconino High in Flagstaff on Saturday.